About Eduwonk & ES Media

About Eduwonk
ES Blog Editorial Policy
Education Sector
The Education Sector Digest
The Quick and the Ed

News Feeds & More



Reviews of Eduwonk.com

2007 Winner, Editor's Choice Best Education Blog
-- Performancing.com

2006 Winner, Best K-12 Administration Blog -- "Best of the Education Blog Awards"
-- eSchool News and Discovery Education

2006 Finalist, Best Education Blog
-- Weblog Awards

Least influential of education's most influential information sources.
-- Education Week Research Center

"unexpectedly entertaining"..."tackle[s] a potentially mindfogging subject with cutting clarity... they're reading those mushy, brain-numbing education stories so you don't have to!"
-- Slate's Mickey Kaus

"a very smart blog... [if] you're trying to separate the demagogic attacks on NCLB from the serious criticism, this is the site to read"
-- The New Republic's Ryan Lizza

"everyone who's anyone reads Eduwonk"
-- Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media's Richard Colvin

"full of very lively short items and is always on top of the news...He gets extra points for skewering my high school rating system"
-- Jay Mathews, The Washington Post

"a daily dose of information from the education policy world, blended with a shot of attitude and a dash of humor"
-- Education Week

"designed to cut through the fog and direct specialists and non-specialists alike to the center of the liveliest and most politically relevant debates on the future of our schools"
-- The New Dem Daily

"peppered with smart and witty comments on the education news of the day"
-- Education Gadfly

"don't hate Eduwonk cuz it's so good"
-- Alexander Russo, This Week In Education

"the morning's first stop for education bomb-throwers everywhere"
-- Mike Antonucci, Intercepts

"…the big dog on the ed policy blog-ck…"
-- Michele McLaughlin, AFT Blog

"I check Eduwonk several times a day, especially since I cut back on caffeine"
-- Joe Williams, fallen journalist, Executive Director, Democrats for Education Reform

"...one of the few bloggers who isn't completely nuts"
-- Mike Petrilli, Thomas B. Fordham Foundation

"I have just three 'go to' websites: The Texas Legislature, Texas Longhorn sports, and Eduwonk"
-- Sandy Kress, former education advisor to President Bush and former chairman, Dallas Board of Education

"penetrating analysis in a lively style on a wide range of issues"
-- Walt Gardner, champion letter-to-the-editor writer and retired teacher

-- Susan Ohanian

Education News and Analysis

American Educator
Chronicle of Higher Education
Education Next
Education Week
eSchool News
Inside Higher Ed
Jay Mathews' Class Struggle
Phi Delta Kappan
New York Times Education
School Wise Press
Teacher Magazine

Policy and Political Blogs

The American Scene
Andrew Sullivan.com
Booker Rising
The Corner
Daniel Drezner
Dangerous Thoughts
The Democratic Strategist
The Has Been
Huffington Post
Loose Cannon
Matthew Yglesias
The Plank (TNR)
Political Animal (Washington Monthly)
The Politico
Post Global
Real Clear Politics
Taking Note
Think Tank Town
Volokh Conspiracy
WSJ's Blog Federation
Washington Whispers


Collective Bargaining in Education: Negotiating Change in Today's Schools

Edited by Jane Hannaway and Andrew J. Rotherham

Why Newsweek's List of America's 100 Best High Schools Doesn't Make the Grade

By Andrew J. Rotherham
and Sara Mead

A Qualified Teacher
in Every Classroom

Edited by Frederick M. Hess, Andrew J. Rotherham,
and Kate Walsh

America's Teaching Crisis

By Jason Kamras and Andrew J. Rotherham

Rethinking Special Education For A New Century

Edited by Chester E. Finn, Jr., Andrew J. Rotherham
& Charles R. Hokanson, Jr.

Making The Cut: How States Set Passing Scores on Standardized Tests

By Andrew J. Rotherham

Education Blogs

A Constrained Vision
Andrew Pass
a schoolyard blog
Assorted Stuff
Mr. B-G's English Blog
Barnett Berry
Bill Jackson's Education Blog
Bridging Differences (Meier and Ravitch)
Bulletin Board (NASBE)
Campaign K-12 (Ed Week)
Chaos Theory
Charter Blog (NAPCS)
Charter School Policy Inst. Blog
Chez Dormont
Chris Correa
Class Context
The College Puzzle
College Ready Blog (Athens Learning Group)
The Common School
Conversation Starters
Core Knowledge Blog
Critical Mass
Dangerously Irrelevant
Daryl Cobranchi
Dave Shearon
Dave Saba (ABCTE)
DC Education Blog
Dems for Education Reform
The Deputy Head
Early Ed Watch
Early Stories
Educated Nation
Educating One Mind
The Education Network
The Education Wonks
Edwize (UFT)
Eponymous Educator
Essential Blog
Extra Credit
Flypaper (Fordham)
Fordham Fellows
From The Trenches
The Gadfly
Get On The Bus (Dayton Daily News)
Get Schooled (AJC)
The Gradebook (St. Pete Times)
Grumpy Professor
The Hall Monitor
Higher Ed Watch
Hip Teacher
I Thought A Think
In Other News (Ed Week)
Inside Pre-K
Jay Greene
Jenny D.
John Merrow
K-12 Hotlinks
Kindling Flames
Kitchen Table Math
Learning Now (PBS)
The Life That Chose Me
Mathew K. Tabor
Media Infusion
Ms. Frizzle
Moving At The Speed Of Creativity
NCLB Act II (Ed Week)
NSBA's BoardBuzz
NYC Educator
Paper Trail (USN)
ParaNews (NCP)
Paul Baker
The Portable Princess
The PrincipalsPage
Principal's Policy Blog (NASSP)
Quasi Dictum
Roy Romer
Running on Empty
School of Blog
School Zone (MJS)
Schools for Tomorrow
Science After School
SF Schools
Sherman Dorn
SITE Mentor
Small Talk
Special Education Law Blog
Starting Over (Ed Week)
Swift & Change Able
Teach and Learn
Teacher Voices
Teachers At Risk
Teachers' Lounge
Teaching in the 408
Teaching Rookie
Think Lab
This is how I Swim
This Week In Education
Tim Fredrick
Up The Down Staircase
Urban Angle
What up, Mz. Smlph?
Whitney Tilson
Why Boys Fail
Why Homeschool

Educational Resources and Organizations

AALE Charter School Accreditation
Alliance for Excellent Education
American Association of School Administrators
American Educational Research Association
American Federation of Teachers
American Institutes For Research
Annie E. Casey Foundation
Aspen Institute
Asia Society
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
The Broad Foundation
The Brookings Institution
Building Excellent Schools
Center for American Progress
Center for Education Reform
Center for School Change
Center on Education Policy
Center on Reinventing Public Education
Citizens Commission On Civil Rights
Coalition of Essential Schools
Community College Research Center
Community Training and Assistance Center
Council of Chief State School Officers
Council of Great City Schools
Core Knowledge Foundation
Data Quality Campaign
Democratic Leadership Council
eSchool News
Education Commission of the States
Education Evolving
Education Sector
The Education Trust
George Lucas Educational Foundation
Haberman Foundation
Hechinger Institute On Education and the Media
Joyce Foundation
Just for the Kids
Knowledge Alliance
Learning Point Associates
Local School Directory
Michael and Susan Dell Foundation
Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning
The Mind Trust
National Academies Center for Education
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
National Association of Charter School Authorizers
National Association of Secondary School Principals
National Center for Postsecondary Research
National Center on Education and the Economy
National Charter School Research Project
National Council on Teacher Quality
National Education Association
National Education Writers Association
National Governors Association
National Institute for Excellence in Teaching
National School Boards Association
New Leaders for New Schools
New Schools Venture Fund
The New Teacher Project
New Vision
Pre-K Now
Harvard's Program On Education Policy and Governance
Progressive Policy Institute
PPI's 21st Century Schools Project
Public Agenda
Public Impact
Reading Reform Foundation
Rick Hess' World HQ
The Savvy Source for Parents
Scholastic Administrator
School Data Direct
Standard & Poor's School Evaluation Services
Standards Work
Teach for America
The Teaching Commission
Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
Trust for Early Education
Uncommon Schools
United States Department of Education
The Urban Institute

Opinions on Eduwonk reflect the views of the author, Education Sector does not take institutional positions. Outgoing links do not constitute an endorsement.

Friday, August 18, 2006

More JebBloom

It's been almost a week and I still haven't heard anyone whose opinion I respect (Democrat or Republican) say that this was a good op-ed...feel free to write if you're out there!
Posted at 1:57 PM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Culture Club
Interesting Joel Klein speech (pdf), gets at the nub of the issue:

...education reform involves changing a culture that has inhabited our school systems for decades. It is a culture that claims to be in the business of educating children but puts schools, and the people who work in them, at the bottom of the organizational chart. It is a culture that stifles innovation. It is a culture that seeks to preserve the existing arrangements for the adults who work in the system, and, all too often, it does so at the expense of the kids who most need our schools to work for them.

Not to sound like a giddy big think type, but we really are at a transformative time in public education. The pressure to shift to a system that focuses on performance is firmly embedded in public policy and generational shift is taking place in the leadership, teaching, and policymaking communities. Both are enormous challenges but also enormous opportunities. What makes Klein a lightening rod is not that everything he's tried in New York hasn't always panned out, it's that he's on the edge of this change and so almost regardless of the results he's going to be catching hell for a while.

Incidentally, while I think all three of the changes Klein says are necessary are important, the shift from uniformity to differentiation could be the most important over time for the continued success of public education as a broadly supported institution.
Posted at 1:06 PM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Another Promotional Blurb
Spending time with The Gadfly Show is like watching a ferret being tortured. But it's at least more bearable this week because Sara Mead guest hosts...
Posted at 12:53 PM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

DC Charters
Sensible WaPo ed board take on school chief Janey's call for a moratorium on charter schools in the city. Sure, there are some lousy charters in D.C. but (a) the DC Charter School Board is closing down schools and there are some other steps that should be taken to help address that (b) there are also many good ones and some truly outstanding ones, too, and a moratorium is a blunt instrument affecting all equally and (c) the notion of the District of Columbia Public Schools demanding more attention to quality is like the Hummer people demanding that automakers pay more attention to fuel efficiency, it's hard to take too seriously.
Posted at 12:45 PM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

The Future Of Pre-K
Former Indy mayor and policy innovator Stephen Goldsmith turns in an interesting paper on pre-K education. He asks the right question: Should we be seeking to create a pre-K system a pre-K solution? I'm certainly in the latter camp at the superficial level but as soon as you start thinking about standards, quality, and so forth the lines start to blur. And, to really create an effective pre-K solution is going to take resources, new ones and redirected ones. That's not going to happen (nor would it be a good idea) without attention to quality. Goldsmith does seem to say, however, that debate about how to structure pre-K has not been happening. I don't agree, it's the thing you hear serious state and national players on this issue talking about all the time.

Yet Goldsmith seems most concerned that simply adding pre-K to our existing elementary and secondary system could cripple the network of pre-K providers that exists now because parents would naturally choose "free" public programs and he seems to want to keep this away from the public schools. As a matter of making policy, while there are plenty of reasons to embrace pluralism in the delivery of pre-K programs, protecting the network of current providers is not one of them. Rather, we should look at the direction we want to go and reverse engineer from there in terms of the mix of existing and new options and the service(s) we want them to deliver. In other words, the notion that the public schools should be axiomatically out of the mix makes little sense despite Robert Putnam's concerns about kindergarten.

Sara Mead has laid out a bold proposal for a federal - state partnership to do basically this. It would combine federal resources with state and local flexibility to create the market of providers each state wants. Some ways to contain the costs but it's expensive no matter how you slice it. But, perhaps the deal is market enthusiasts getting real choice in pre-K but accepting big new investments and public school advocates accepting choice but getting a real pre-K initiative.
Posted at 11:25 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Ain't Gonna Learn What You Don't Want To Know
I think one of the biggest problems facing charter schools is that most people have no idea what they are and consequently have trouble understanding all the back and forth. Public Agenda found as much a few years ago. And when I get emails from activists deriding charter schools like this one -- which as it turns out isn't even a charter school at all -- it just reinforces this...
Posted at 10:15 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

To The Bunkers! And, Bonus Haiku!

Joe Williams gives, mostly accurate and NR-17 bloggy voice to the word on the edustreet about the forthcoming charter school report from NCES, the results of which are one of the worst kept secrets in town right now. It will unfortunately set off a firestorm which is too bad because again the study is not well suited to answer the $64K question everyone wants answered.

Eduwonk is again moved to poetry:

Soon more charter wars
Russ Whitehurst must own some stock
In the New York Times

Update: Reader MR writes to say:

Some charter advocates will see red
Others may feel blue
A day early are you
With your Eduwonk Haiku

"Bad Poetry Day - August 18"
Posted at 2:45 PM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Eduwonk Haiku
Well, the whole AFTie Disastie of the past week and this most recent post have moved Eduwonk to poetry:

The new AFTie blog
Reveals true AFTie nature
Bad for their PR
Posted at 2:21 PM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

That NYT story about Auburn football apparently did get some results...Also, loosely related to education, nice to see that aspiring NFLer Marcus Vick is getting his life back together but when you're trying to get a spot on the Miami Dolphin's roster, is it really such a good idea to tell the WaPo how your brother throws much harder than the organization's QB?
Posted at 10:17 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

More TFA
Over at Teaching in the 408, TMAO offers an interesting and smart take on Avi Zenilman's Wash. Monthly piece on Teach For America. It's too binary for me, and I see TFA as helping to bring about some of the changes that TMAO seeks in the profession (and if history is a guide they're going to come through external pressure anyway) but worth reading.
Posted at 9:53 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

DC Charter Schools: Spastic AFTies And Measured Mead

DC Schools Chief Janey wants a moratorium on new charter schools in Washington. AFTie John is beside himself with ecstasy and takes the opportunity to smear DC charter schools because a DC School Board officer in charge of charter authorizing might be a crook. You'd think he'd know better than to make broad inferences based on stuff like that anyway. Anyway, at Q and E, Sara Mead offers a more sensible take and sidesteps AFTie John's false choice.

Update: Over at the Charter Blog Justin jumps in and offers up a Skittle challenge!
Posted at 3:59 PM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Your Bloggy Map To Class And Schools
Last week NYT's Schemo pinch hit for the On Education column and her channeling of Richard Rothstein -- who used to write the column -- caused a blogospheric eruption, much of which is well worth reading: D-Ed Reckoning's Rosa here and here, Q & E's Kevin Carey here, AFTie Ed here, This Week's Russo here, Chalkboard's Williams here, School of Blog's Julie here, and Edspresso's Boots here. My short take on the larger issue here (along with a smart take from CCCR's Piche).

Update: NYC Schools Chief Joel Klein weighs in via the NYT letters page:

...Ms. Schemo quotes experts saying that schools “can’t do much better” until we reduce poverty. But this is what we know: Schools will never do better as long as that attitude prevails. Great educators succeed in no small part because they take responsibility, expecting high achievement from their students and from themselves...
Posted at 8:13 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

A Jeb Blooms In The WaPo...And, Why Is George Killing Jeb's Priorities?
Sunday's WaPo op-ed by Florida Governor and first brother Jeb Bush and New York Mayor and Michael Bloomberg is sort of mystifying the Eduwonk. Sure, they are big names, but the op-ed is vapid. It would be like some big name foreign policy type penning an op-ed saying that the problem in the Middle East is that people just don't seem to get along with each other. Would the WaPo publish that?

Anyway, Bush and Bloomberg lay out four big think reforms for No Child Left Behind. If this is what passes for big think in the Republican Party right now then Democrats have no excuses for not eating the Rs lunch on this issue in 2008. Bush and Bloomberg want to:

  • Make standards meaningful by making the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) the default standards;
  • Encourage student gains;
  • Recognize degrees of progress; and
  • Reward and retain high-quality teachers.

It all sounds plausible enough, until you scratch below the surface. The NAEP is a useful barometer of educational progress but not well suited to becoming either a national test or default curriculum. And, for any national standard to have resonance it must have buy-in from the states and imposing the NAEP on them is no way to accomplish that. Besides, right now the NCLB bottom line is that the feds can't get the states to enforce their own standards, why are they going to enforce an external set, on behalf of the feds?

Encouraging student gains is one of those facile things that falls in the category of supporting chocolate tasting good. The more serious question is how to design growth or value-added models in a way that doesn't pull the rug out from under disadvantaged kids politically and also passes muster technically. As the most recent GAO report (pdf) on the issue shows, states have a long way to go on the technical side and that's before we start really considering the feasibility of value-added models in practice with adverse consequences attached to them. So while, Bloomberg and Bush are correct in their assertion that, "When the law was written five years ago, Congress didn't think it was possible to follow an individual student's performance from year to year" Congress would still be right in thinking that it's not possible in almost every state. That's why only two states got approved for the recent Department of Education growth model pilot. Policymaking starts with what is desirable but ends with what is possible, something lost on most breathless boosters of value-added and growth models. And, politically, does anyone seriously trust the states to set rigorous targets for low-income and minority kids without some sort of external benchmarks? In other words, once you get the technical issues worked out, the potential for all kinds of political mischief still remains.

But it's the latter two ideas, recognizing degrees of progress and reward and retaining high-quality teachers that really show the problem here. First, Jeb Bush would be on much firmer ground arguing for more differentiation if Florida's accountability system took racial and ethnic subgroups into account in the first place. That's the source of the conflict here between Florida's letter grades and the federal "adequate yearly progress" (pdf) requirements that the state is trying to fuzzy over. Under Florida's system a school can still get an A or a B even if most or all of its minority students are lagging far behind. Moreover, under No Child Left Behind, this year only 51 percent of students at a school (and unfortunately for Florida that means 51 percent of the minority kids, too!) need to pass Florida's state tests to make adequate yearly progress in the first place (pdf). That's up from only 44 percent last year when the state really started moaning in earnest about this. How low does Jeb Bush want to set the bar for progress? And, it is worth pointing out that under No Child nothing prevents states from using a variety of strategies to reward progress and the law gives states a lot of leeway in tailoring various interventions toward schools. The federal bottom line is merely that ultimately an increasing percentage of students need to pass state tests. Over time that requirement is going to need to be reworked but that time is not when states like Florida only need to have half the students at a school passing state tests to make adequate yearly progress.

Rewarding and retaining teachers falls much in the same boat. I'm all for having the feds do more on that front but nothing is preventing states from doing it now except inertia and politics.* Are Republicans now saying that it's the feds not the states who are the innovators? And if Jeb Bush is so concerned about this issue he might have tried to persuade his brother, the not-insignificant President of the United States, not to cave on the Teacher Incentive Fund so that it's only a $100 million initiative, 20 percent of what the Administration had originally sought. (*To his credit, Jeb has tried to move the ball on that issue a little in FL but a lot more to do).

Otherwise, great op-ed!

Posted at 8:11 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Monday, August 14, 2006

Kevin Carey Is A "Real" Conservative!

And since it's PFAW outing him as one I think it's pejorative! It's great that PFAW is taking on this silly 65 percent solution idea, but must they malign Kevin (a former Ed Truster, CBPPer, etc...) in the process? I guess it's always the innocents who suffer...
Posted at 2:38 PM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Kress V. Murray
Charles Murray is apparently still flacking his WSJ op-ed on No Child Left Behind. Mike Petrilli took him on here, Jay Greene here, now Sandy Kress does the same in the Dallas Morning News.
Posted at 1:55 PM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Clint Bolick Is Bad! But He's Winning...
PFAW's Kevin Franck attacks voucher advocate Clint Bolick in his most recent commentary on Jimmy Kilpatrick's site with a list of grievances that seem to boil down to: Clint Bolick is a bad guy, doesn't like affirmative action, and he hangs around with Clarence Thomas! Franck does make a good point about the irony of those demanding judicial restraint rushing to court to expand school choice. But I think he's too sanguine about the potential of these lawsuits. He's right about the legal history but this new tactic is cognizant of that, too, and I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand. And, I don't buy Franck's assertion that vouchers are being roundly defeated. On the contrary, since 1990 -- which I'd argue marks the real start of the latest push for vouchers -- Milwaukee, Ohio, Florida, Colorado (since overturned by the courts), and Utah have passed voucher programs, and Milwaukee and Ohio have markedly expanded theirs, the federal government has passed one for Washington, D.C., and Florida, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Iowa have passed tax-credit plans that look an awful lot like vouchers. Oh, and don't forget a landmark SCOTUS case. That's a lot of movement in just 16 years in a system that is designed to move pretty slowly...And, what exactly are the comparable wins from the public school establishment during that time? I'd have to say the voucher folks are winning and until the public school folks get their heads around that and really get in the game with serious alternatives, they're going to keep winning. Thx to reader A. for the tip.
Posted at 11:10 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

At The Teacher Movies
WaPo's Teresa Wiltz says TNT's "Ron Clark Story" is predictable tripe, Slate's Dana Stevens says "Half Nelson" is not.
Posted at 7:30 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post

Moe V. Bracey
In Stanford Magazine Jerry Bracey and Terry Moe debate No Child Left Behind. It's unsatisfying. Moe's right about incentives, you don't have to be some sort of Skinnerian freak to see that, but his analysis of power is too deterministic for my taste. Many of the positions the teachers' unions take are part of the problem, but they're far from the only problem facing public schools and to some extent teachers' unions thrive on the dominant culture in public education rather than necessarily cause it exclusively.

For his part, Bracey makes an interesting point about people believing the worst about public schools. In some cases I think this is right and there is a tendency to uncritically accept bad news. But, that's far from an absolute rule. For instance, isn't the intense resistance to acknowledging that even "great" suburban schools are as a rule under-educating minority students a powerful piece of evidence to the contrary? Again, culture looms large. But then Bracey gets into tin foil hat territory with lines like this:

I have never believed that [NCLB] is the idealistic, well-intentioned but poorly executed program that many claim it to be. NCLB aims to shrink the public sector, transfer large sums of public money to the private sector, weaken or destroy two Democratic power bases—the teachers unions—and provide vouchers to let students attend private schools at public expense. The original proposal, and each subsequent presidential budget, provided for vouchers, but Congress has thus far removed these provisions.

Moe's lede graf dryly illustrates how absurd this premise is a general matter. But "large sums?" Seems to me, based on the numbers, that the lion's share of the money has gone to the public sector (fine with me by the way) and that overall the reform has increased not decreased public sector activity and authority around education. Even in light of recent budget cuts, billions in new federal spending have gone to public schools since the law was passed and while private tutoring companies and testing companies have received a share of that, it's a small share. The more subtle problem isn't hysterics about the private sector, it's that most of this new money, leaving aside high profile initiatives like Reading First, has gone down the same old pipes and consequently leveraged very little reform.
Posted at 7:28 AM | Comments: 0 | Link to this item | Email this post